SUNNYVALE—In a rare legal move, Yahoo (YHOO) is asking a secretive U.S. surveillance court to let the public see its arguments in a 2008 case that played an important role in persuading tech companies to cooperate with a controversial government data-gathering effort.
Releasing those files would demonstrate that Yahoo "objected strenuously" to government demands for customers' information and would also help the public understand how surveillance programs are approved under federal law, the company argued in a filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court this week.
Yahoo's argument against the data-gathering was rejected in a 2008 ruling that gave the government powerful leverage to persuade other tech companies to comply with similar information demands, according to legal experts. But under federal law, the court's ruling and the arguments by Yahoo and other parties have been treated as classified information. Until last month, Yahoo was not even allowed to say it was a party in the case.